Disclaimer: This story includes images of child loss that may be triggering to some.
“2 hours… it had only been 2 hours… I did not even realize my world would be shattered because of 2 hours. Lucas would always kick when I sang and read to Jaxson at bed and nap time. It was the best quality time with my two children. Sometimes Jaxson would feel Lucas kick during those times and start talking to him. I know it sounds strange but they were already bonding in a way, and Lucas had not even entered the world yet. Unfortunately, he never would.
Monday, February 15, 2016, was a normal day. I went to lunch with my girlfriends and saw Lucas move his foot across my belly while I sat there chatting, mostly talking about how I could not wait to meet this baby! I was so curious to see if it was a boy or girl, although I was certain it was a girl (totally wrong!). Then I went home just in time to put Jax down for a nap. I did not feel Lucas move while I sang and rocked Jaxson to sleep. It didn’t worry me because I had been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and I knew Lucas was running out of room. When Jaxson woke up and I still had not felt Lucas kick, I thought I would go to the doctor just to be safe. I honestly thought I was overreacting and just needed peace of mind. Jeremy offered to come with me but it was a beautiful day and Jaxson was playing outside and I didn’t want to disrupt that.
The nurse asked me when the last time I felt the baby kick. I said, ‘2 hours. I’m sure I’m overreacting.’ The nurse hooked me up to a baby heart monitor, and moved it all around… then called the doctor in because she ‘couldn’t get the machine to work.’ I was frustrated ‘the machine didn’t work’ but was happy to see my doctor walk in with her Doppler. Lucas was supposedly sunny-side-up so it was hard to find an accurate heartbeat. So they brought in a sonogram machine. In hindsight, I should have been nervous sooner but they did a great job at disguising what was going on. When they wanted to take me to a different room to get another sonogram, my heart started racing and I had trouble breathing. I tried to calmly walk into the room and prayed everything was okay. I even reminded them we were waiting to find out the sex and it would be a shame to spoil it this close to my due date. The look on my doctor’s face when she had confirmed my biggest fear, it was like her heart was breaking with me. ‘Okay, there is no heartbeat.’
We went to the labor and delivery ward and were put in a room at the far end of the ward. I assumed it was so we wouldn’t hear any babies cry, but I later realized it was also so no one else would hear us scream and cry in the agony that was to come.
My entire birth plan had changed. Originally I was going to try to labor a little while before getting an epidural. Now I could not imagine being in any more pain than I already was. I did not want to feel any pain. I did not want to see any contractions on the monitor. When I was induced with my first son, I was given Pitocin to help get labor started after the doctor broke my water. Today, a stronger pill was inserted that caused horrible cramping and no one broke my water. Everything was different.
My dad arrived and was very quiet. For the first time, I realized no one knows what to say in this situation. You always expect your parents to give comforting advice, but there was no such thing right now so he just let me cry.
‘What do we do with the baby?’ My husband asked with tears in his eyes. I told him we would give the baby a name and give him a funeral and think of him always. He originally thought the funeral should just be with him and I but when I pointed out we were not the only people grieving right now, we agreed to keep the funeral to family and close friends. Around 4 a.m., I could tell it was time to push. I woke Jeremy up and called in the nurse. She said to try not to push for a few minutes so my cervix could open up just a little bit more. It turns out the only thing harder than pushing a baby out is trying not to. When it came time to really push, I had a breakdown. I looked at my husband and said, ‘He’s not going to cry! I can’t do this! HE IS NOT GOING TO CRY… HE IS NOT GOING TO CRY.’ The magnitude of the situation hit me like a wave and I couldn’t even process it because the baby was coming. So I screamed and cried and pushed the baby out.
And he didn’t cry.
I looked down and saw my perfect baby. I asked the doctor if it was a boy or a girl. She had not even looked yet because she had to immediately take samples to get tested in hopes of finding an answer as to why this happened. It didn’t matter if the baby was a boy or girl so when she said ‘boy,’ I just continued to sob. It was my husband’s dream to have two boys 2 years apart and that dream was shattered. She handed him to me and I held him and rocked him and told him how sorry I was. Lucas looked so much like Jaxson but so yet different. He had his brother’s nose and ears. He had my lips. He had dark hair and more of it but he was perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes… perfect. Lucas was born at 4:25 a.m., weighed 7.68 pounds and was 20.5 inches long and looked amazingly healthy.
I felt so much pain in that moment, my heart literally hurt. I was holding my precious baby boy and he was dead. He would not be going home with us. I held his tiny hand, hugged his little body, and just cried my heart out. He looked perfect. He had really big feet, which explains why my ribs were bruised on the inside, something we would have joked about with everyone if he was alive. I just stared at him. I never wanted to forget his face. He was created out of love and he would never get to come home to those who loved him so deeply and purely.
It took Jeremy a long time to hold Lucas. It was as if he had to work up the courage. It was the final piece that made the situation completely real. When I finally handed him Lucas, he turned his back to me and just completely broke down. He couldn’t even catch his breath and couldn’t move to comfort him because I was still stuck in bed. Even in his darkest moment, he tried to be strong for me. The emotions I felt holding our baby who didn’t cry is truly indescribable. I have never felt so much love and agony at the same time. I never got to see Lucas take his first breath or hear his cry. That silence still haunts me. I told him I loved him more than anything, that I was so terribly sorry this happened, and he would forever be in our hearts.
I did not grow up in a Christian home, but at Lucas’ funeral, my brother-in-law said to me, ‘You will be reunited one day.’ I had to believe if I was going to survive. I started going to church and learned God was grieving right alongside me and Lucas is safe in Heaven until I get there.
I also whole-heartedly believe he is with us every day and even keeps an eye on us. My husband and I also saw a grief counselor. We were grieving drastically differently and the counselor gave us the tools to stay united in our grief while respecting how each of us was handling it. Jaxson deserves the best parents he can have so Jeremy and I worked very hard to live alongside the grief and find joy in everyday life.
Within 5 months, I was pregnant again. It was terrifying. After being the one in four of the statistic, unlikely doesn’t feel unlikely. After 9 long months, 24 hours of labor, and an urgent c-section, Jameson Lucas came safely into this world on April 4th, 2017. Jameson helped bring some healing because he brought so much joy to our lives. His arrival was bittersweet because it was also a reminder of what we never got to do with Lucas. I didn’t mind getting up at all hours of the night because I was just thankful I could do that. There are so many things I took for granted before we lost Lucas that had a whole new meaning to me now. My fourth son, Maverick Ryan, was born on November 26, 2018. I was able to enjoy this pregnancy a little bit more but still dealt with anxiety until he was safely in my arms.
Grief, I have learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go. I try every day to pour all that love into my earthside children. I also have more compassion and understanding. Nobody ever really knows how much anyone else is hurting. You could be standing next to somebody who is completely broken and you wouldn’t know it. That’s why you should always try to be kind. So another car cuts me off in traffic? Maybe they are going through a really hard thing, maybe not… but it doesn’t hurt me to give them the benefit of the doubt and wish them nothing but peace. We only have one life to live and not every day is guaranteed. I have tried to instill this concept into my children’s hearts and hope this compassionate side carries them far in life.
I have worked very hard to live alongside the grief. It is possible to find joy in life AND grieve Lucas. I miss him each and every day while being the mother that my earthside children deserve. Even four years later, there are still days when a wave of grief comes crashing in and I feel like I am drowning. I welcome those days too because it is part of the process and I need to feel all the feelings on my grief journey that is my life. It is okay for my earthside children to see me these days — they know I will be okay. We talk about Lucas every day. Even though he is not a part of our lives the way we imagined, we carry him with us every day. Every night at bedtime, I tell the boys a story and it always includes Lucas. When someone asks me how many children I have, I always say four. I am a mom of four boys and I am proud of all my children, especially the one in Heaven. For our family photos we always take a photo of Lucas, so he is included.
When we lose someone, we must learn not to live without them but to live with the love they left behind. And that is how I live my life every day. I would not be the mom I am today without Lucas. Every day, I try to wake up with a grateful heart for the life I have with my earthside babies and the angel who watches over us.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa McFall from Olathe, Kansas. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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